nepali team of reporters

meet the women transforming journalism in puerto rico

Dear Reader,

A letter from Shanté Cosme, Global Press Chief Content Officer

When Global Press set out to broaden its coverage of Puerto Rico, our guiding question was, “Whose stories are missing?”

We considered communities not often covered and how we might expand, contextualize and challenge the often-limiting narratives that dominate the region’s portrayal in the media. It wasn’t just a matter of geography, but an essential inquiry into what it means to create journalism that is truly inclusive.

Our Puerto Rico bureau was established in 2019, nearly two years after Hurricane Maria devastated the region. The storm’s effects, both political and personal, continued to reverberate. A significant number of Puerto Ricans advocated for statehood, and United States media faced criticism for their fleeting disaster coverage, neglecting the prolonged turmoil that followed. At Global Press, we committed to unearthing these narratives, to authentically depict the complexity of Puerto Rican life during that pivotal juncture.

This year, our recruitment efforts in “La Isla del Encanto” ventured beyond the extensively covered coastal cities to the heights of Utuado; the coastal town of Vega Baja; and Yabucoa, where Hurricane Maria made landfall.

It wasn’t just a matter of geography, but an essential inquiry into what it means to create journalism that is truly inclusive.

Photo by Gabriela Meléndez Rivera, GPJ Puerto Rico

Our latest cohort of reporters are seasoned journalists who bring a sharp eye for capturing compelling details. They join Coraly Cruz Mejías, a senior reporter with Global Press since 2019, who recently reported on the tension between urbanization and preservation in Old San Juan.

This cohort became the first to gather for in-person training since the pandemic began, an experience that underscored the irreplaceable quality of shared presence. Their powerful inaugural reports vividly portray the resilience and dynamism of Puerto Rico as only those who call it home truly can.

Shante Cosme

Shanté Cosme, Chief Content Officer

Photo by Gabriela Meléndez Rivera, GPJ Puerto Rico

Coverage Beyond Catastrophe

Sam Nesfield, Director of Global Expansion

When Global Press started reporting from Puerto Rico and still today, international reporting about the region often focused on a single event or series of events: political rallies or protests, hurricanes or earthquakes. In addition to these disaster-focused stories, international reporting often misses the context readers need to fully understand the issue. One example is that Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States — neither a U.S. state nor a sovereign country. We at Global Press were mindful of this fact in 2019. It wasn’t until we started listening to and learning the full historical and cultural context from reporters that we could begin to understand how that political status impacts everyday life.

Earlier this year, we purposefully recruited women journalists from areas and communities outside coastal cities like San Juan and Ponce, where most news outlets are based. Over the past two decades, local, national and regional news outlets have shrunk or closed down entirely. We invite local and global readers to read about the full range of experiences in the region — from those in the mountainous central region in Utuado, to the northern coast in Vega Baja, to the southeast in Yabucoa.

Sam Nesfield

Sam Nesfield, Director of Global Expansion

Photo by Yasmín Porrata Morán, GPJ Puerto Rico

Expanding Expertise

Manori Wijesekera, Global Training Manager

The latest cohort of reporters came to Global Press Institute training with several years of experience working in journalism, in a variety of media formats and covering a wide range of topics. Their understanding of what makes a story was strong, they had powerful insights into their local community, and they were skilled interviewers and researchers.

However, as they dived into Global Press journalism, they encountered new ways of identifying the news value of a story (not the breaking news event but its consequence), sourcing (proximity of the source to the consequence) and accuracy (evaluating factual accuracy within the local context). They began to grasp that their understanding of local context and their direct access to powerful local sources were incredibly important assets they could leverage in every story. The reporters shared that this entailed some unlearning as they shifted perspectives and their usual approach to reporting. These were small yet significant changes for all reporters — and their first stories reflect the practice and their shifts in perspective.

Manori Wijesekera

Manori Wijesekera, Global Training Manager

Photo by Yerimar Rivera Rivera, GPJ Puerto Rico

Global Issues, Local Perspectives

María Arce, Editorial Coach

This team of dedicated reporters is deeply rooted in their local communities. Yasmín Porrata Morán is based in Utuado, Gabriela Meléndez Rivera in Vega Baja, and Yerimar Rivera Rivera was raised in Yabucoa, where she witnessed Hurricane Maria’s landfall in 2017. These well-established journalists have forged strong connections with local sources and have an intimate understanding of the needs, achievements and aspirations of the people in their communities. They are passionate about underreported issues, including those related to the impact of natural disasters on rivers, elderly adults isolated in the mountains, the vibrant arts and culture of the north coast, and local sports. Each of them has shown an unwavering commitment to accuracy and precision in their training and work.

During this team’s in-person training, it was stimulating and inspiring to witness them working together with senior reporter Coraly Cruz Mejías, who shared her insights and advice on being a successful Global Press Journal reporter in Puerto Rico.

Dominic Ronzo

María Arce, Editorial Coach

Photo by Gabriela Meléndez Rivera, GPJ Puerto Rico

A Focus on Dignity

Juan Pablo Ampudia, Photo Editor

Even though the reporters had limited foundations in photography, they excelled in their training by pushing themselves to understand their cameras and photography basics, and to photograph in public. They are passionate about photography and are constantly looking for inspiration from photographers around the globe. Yasmín’s sensitivity and care for the dignity of the people she photographed stood out in her first story, about how the community in Mameyes, whose population is predominantly older adults, protected its health by creating its own hospital. The intimacy and vibrancy that Gaby captured helped us relate to members of the LGBTQ+ community who have escaped discrimination, healed from trauma and found family under the neon lights of Puerto Rico’s voguing scene. Yerimar’s passion for covering social issues will make her stories important in the narrative of Puerto Rico, like her first story, about how Hurricane Maria devastated two school campuses in Yabucoa that have not been rebuilt, leaving behind students who were promising athletes. This new cohort’s dedication to learning and honing their skills will make their visual storytelling even bolder.

Juan Pablo Ampudia, Photo Editor

Juan Pablo Ampudia, Photo Editor

Meet the Team of Reporters

Gabriela Meléndez Rivera

From the shores of Vega Baja, in northern Puerto Rico, Gabriela joined Global Press to give voice to the small but significant stories of the region’s thriving communities. Her goal is to challenge stereotypes. “I want to tell stories that prioritize the people who strive to make living in Puerto Rico more accessible,” says Gaby, as she likes to be called. Gaby wants the world to discover the diversity of her community, even in the most challenging moments.

Yasmín Porrata Morán

Yasmín is based in Utuado, one of the three largest municipalities in Puerto Rico. She joined Global Press with the conviction of giving voice to the unconventional protagonists that represent her community, especially in the fields of sports, culture and tourism. She longs for the world to discover the promise of Utuado, “especially the communities that break with the traditional model of government dependence and organize themselves to seek solutions.”

Yerimar Rivera Rivera

Yerimar has spent her life in Yabucoa, the municipality where Hurricane Maria made landfall in 2017. That experience marked her vision of journalism. From her community, she focuses on telling stories that go beyond that natural disaster. For her, Puerto Rico is much more than tragedy and pain. Yerimar saw in Global Press the opportunity to develop sensitive journalism with and for local communities, and to be a bridge by telling stories with dignity. She would like “the world to know the folklore of local traditions, and above all to see the diversity of the community in southeastern Puerto Rico.”